For anyone with a smartphone in their pocket, going to a local branch to open and account or deposit a cheque is now considered an unnecessarily long endeavor. Banking can now be completely online, and the online bank in question will not have a single physical branch. Why would they? They can save money, time and effort away from the high street and towards the efficiency of their online service – the place with far greater potential.
The online banking industry is very quickly evolving. Fintechs are innovating to a more streamline service each year, so it can be difficult to keep up with which is the best. On top of that, people need to be sure their money is in safe hands because, let’s face it, many of these companies are extremely new and unproven.
Whilst challenger banks – startups that are exclusively online – have the advantage regarding malleable infrastructure, this doesn’t rule out traditional highstreets banks entirely. Whilst they are few and far between, some have proven they can keep up with technical developments and evolving customer expectations.
Here is a list of 5 safe, competitive banks that offer a flawless online experience.
Ally is a US bank founded in 2009. Ally is quite comprehensive for an online bank, as they provide mortgages, investing and home/auto loans. With a 5-year CD of 0.85% and no monthly fees, Ally is going to save the customer money if they’re coming from a traditional high street bank.
Ally’s mobile app is rated highly, with an intuitive interface and easy access to features. Perhaps best of all, Ally is known to have outstanding customer service. With 24/7 availability and short waiting times, customers can rely on Ally when there’s a problem that needs sorting out.
Canadian online bank EQ is a little different to the others on the list. The company was founded in 1970, making it originally a traditional high street bank. This puts EQ perhaps the most credible bank on the list, having outlived various recessions.
EQ is no slouch when it comes to online banking either. With an excellent mobile app, 1.50% everyday interest rate and zero monthly account fees, EQ is easy to get started with. This is one of the highest interest rates out there for an everyday bank, yet also provides great customer service.
Maximum balance is $200,000, and pretty much everything is free. The best bit? They are partnered with TransferWise, who offer incredibly competitive FX services for when you go abroad or send money overseas.
N26 is one of the most stylish and popular online banks right now – which does count for something. The German bank was founded in 2013, making it a super recent fintech startup. The German Neobank had quickly spread its operations to the US, UK and countless other countries.
With no monthly fees and up to 1.48% interest on savings, N26 is competitive. Where N26 excels is its flawless app with various saving pots, control over card, spending categorization, notifications and so on. The downside is charging 1.70% on ATM withdrawals abroad, and that operations are being suspended in the UK right now because of Brexit.
Discover is highly rated, and like EQ, it is not a startup. Discover Financial was founded in 1985 as a subsidiary of Sears, in Illinois, US. Discover has been putting more effort into its online banking services in order to keep up with the challenger banks, giving it a mixed feeling of old and new. Its mobile app receives high ratings on both Google Play and the App Store, indicating that there are few bugs or feature issues.
Discover charges no monthly account, ATM or overdraft fees. It has an ATM network of over 60,000 around the US. CDs are on offer for 3 months to 10 years, with a 5-year CD at 0.60% and a 3-month CD at 0.20%. There is a 1% cash back for up to $3,000 in debt card purchases each month with the checking account, and 0.50% APY for savings.
Starling bank is a British online bank founded very recently in 2014. The bank has rapidly built credibility and a large user base in the past 2 years through a strong marketing campaign and a flawless app experience.
Starling is limiting in the sense that you will not be able to take out many loans or overdrafts. Instead, this is an online bank account aimed at smart spending and saving features, such as categorized spending, saving pots, settling up, savings goals, blocking payments, rounding up spending and so on. In this sense, it’s more similar to N26.
These features allow users to have clear control over their savings. Signing up takes minutes and the card will deliver free of charge, and there are very few fees. Overseas spending and ATM withdrawals are ultra competitive, and there’s great security features such as quickly freezing a card and blocking payments.
Overall, there is no single winner. When deciding on which company is best for you, it’s worth assessing the priorities. Do you go on holiday a lot? If so, free/cheap ATM withdrawals abroad and great exchange rates are vital. Or, perhaps a high savings interest rate is most important. Once this is established, it’s easier to narrow down the right company.
The upside is that picking any of these would result in a flawless online experience. There are no slouches here when it comes to managing your money at the click of a button.